Arthur Clennam resolved not to love Pet. He still dislikes Henry Gowan, though, and struggles with the belief that it is not good to indulge ill will towards someone.
Daniel Doyce frequently visits the Meagles and sees Mr. Gowan. He doesn’t believe Mr. Gowan will make Pet happy and will bring future strife. Mr. Clennam doesn’t think there is much they can do about the situation. Mr. Meagles always looks troubled when Mr. Gowan’s name is mentioned.
Gowan is always friendly to Arthur. He invites him to meet his mother. Arthur can’t find a plausible excuse to refuse and accepts. He dreads the day.
The place where Mr. Gowan’s mother lives feels temporary. The people are dissatisfied in life and blame others for whatever they consider wrong with it. They pretend not to see many things going on under their noses. Arthur is viewed as one of the oppressors.
Mrs. Gowan, though, acts like a stately aristocrat—as does her two companions. The reason for this is that they are tied in some way to the Barnacle family or to the Circumlocution office.
They discuss which of the Banracles had made the mistake in turning the country into what it is. Henry Gowan, angry at being a cast off in the Barnacle family, enjoys manipulating the three into arguing with each other. He also seems to take pleasure in Arthur’s discomfiture and feeling left out.
Mrs. Gowan is not happy with Henry’s relationship with Miss Meagles. She pulls Arthur aside and asks if the girl is beautiful. He confirms this. She asks if the girl is plebian. He replies that he is too plebian to be a good judge. He believes her conduct matches her looks.
He tells Mrs. Gowan that he is hardly Henry’s confidante. Mrs. Gowan says that her son is strong-willed. He will never prove to be more than an amateur in the art world. She is very sorry he has chosen a girl with a small fortune. She is certain that the Meagles are trying to entrap him. Arthur tells her that this is not true. Mr. Meagles would like the relationship to cease. She believes Mr. Meagles is purposely acting that way to ensnare Henry, who likes to go after things he thinks other people don’t want him to have.
Henry and Arthur take their leave. Henry states his regret that his mother probably bored Arthur. Arthur assures him this is not the case and wonders if the man had a reason for bringing him there.